Prominent Kaitāia doctor Lance O’Sullivan has posted a video of a busy street of our northernmost town, saying: “This is not a lockdown, this is a joke!”
While roads are almost deserted across most of New Zealand, O’Sullivan says the number of people out and about in Katāia at lunchtime today is “ridiculous”.
“Do I sound frustrated? Because I f***ing am,” he said.
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“There are far too many people on the road, there are far too many cars,” he said.
“This is Kaitāia, population 4500 to 5000, and the number of cars here is ridiculous. This is not essential services.
“So basically, go home, okay? Unless it’s important.”
O’Sullivan, a former New Zealander of the Year, said some people were in the main street to collect prescriptions from the two pharmacies, but not all of them.
“I think we need to have like a courier system, I might talk to the pharmacist about that. There’s way too many people about,” he said.
“This is not working, so we need to change this.”
Pharmacist Richard Brown of the Far North Pharmacy in the main street said he and his staff also took a video to show the amount of traffic in town.
“We’ve been quite surprised at the traffic that is going backwards and forwards, and you know even some hoons and that are around still too,” he said.
“Something that I spotted that would probably worry me even more would be that I’m surprised at the elderly people that are just wandering the streets at times.
“If they ring, we can deliver to them. You don’t have to be around and about, we will deliver to you. Our delivery service has increased hugely over this time and particularly to the elderly.”
However he said the street was also quiet at times.
“It’s a lot quieter than usual, it’s just at times,” he said. “I don’t know if people are just getting used to it maybe, I’m not sure.”
Far North Mayor John Carter said he has been locked down at home and has not been in the main street personally, but agreed that the traffic shown in O’Sullivan’s video was unacceptable.
“Sadly it’s idiots like this that put everything that everyone else is doing at risk. They do need to be dealt with,” he said.
Carter said he was in touch with local police “constantly” and has sent them a copy of O’Sullivan’s video.
“They have been firm and fair,” he said. “It’s entirely up to them as to what action they take. I think it is starting to quieten down a little.”
A police spokeswoman said “a higher level of compliance” with the lockdown rules was still needed.
“In general communities across the country have followed the guidance and they have stayed home – but we need a higher level of compliance to make a difference and save lives,” she said.
“There have been some isolated incidents where there were reports of people congregating. In these situations the people were spoken to and provided with advice on what the restrictions mean.
“Police’s focus remains on maintaining public safety, security and public order.
“Everyone can assist by continuing to self-isolate in their own homes and if they wish to exercise remaining within their neighbourhood. Travel should be restricted to that which is essential and only necessary to obtain food or other medical assistance.”
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was asked to respond to O’Sullivan’s concerns today and said she would like to hear about specific examples.
• Official advice: covid19.govt.nz.
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